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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
In our modern world electoral sociology, which is under constant scrutiny by the general public, as well as members of the media, in many ways shapes the image of sociology as a scientific discipline. Today sociology is often represented by media reports about the results of public opinion polls on the subject of politics and electoral affairs. Meanwhile a certain other trend is apparent: the high expectations imposed on electoral studies, as well as on their verifiability and efficiency, encourage the further development of sociological research and sociology in general. Scientific studies on electoral processes are defined by the convergence of various schools and paradigms of research, which implies an overlapping of different approaches and methods. This article presents the stages of electoral sociology’s development, from “straw polls” to contemporary theories of electoral behavior (the straw poll stage, electoral sociology in the 1930’s and 1940’s, ecological analysis in electoral sociology, the behavioral approach, the sociological theory on electoral behavior, the socio-psychological theory of electoral behavior, the theory of instrumental rationality), which in modern electoral sociology are known as “post-Gallup” theories. The author reveals the main characteristics of each stage of modern electoral sociology’s development, while highlighting its achievements and value, and giving a comprehensive analysis of modern theories of electoral behavior, with regards to issues located on the line between political sociology and sociology of law. Among these issues special consideration is given to elections as a political phenomenon, the political culture and political attitudes of the electorate, features of voting systems, political mechanisms and electoral technologies.
electoral sociology, electoral behavior, straw surveys, «post-Gallup» methods
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